by Michael Smith
COLUMBIA – Grain Valley senior Sevreign Aumua has said throughout her wrestling career, her success hinges on her confidence.
She said she felt more mentally prepared than she did her sophomore year going into the Missouri State High School Girls Wrestling Championships this weekend at Mizzou Arena.
She needed that confidence going in against Rockwood Summit sophomore Madeline Haynes, who had a 40-1 record coming into the 140-pound championship match.
Aumua was ahead by one going into the third period, and when Haynes chose the bottom position, the junior had to make sure her opponent did not escape or else the match would be tied.
She did just that when she used a half nelson to turn Haynes and pin her in 5 minutes and 20 seconds to earn her second consecutive state individual title.
After getting the pin, Aumua flexed her muscles and turned toward the Grain Valley fans who were sitting in the upper level. After greeting her coaches and leaving the mat, she jumped into the arms of boys’ wrestler Justin Deweese in the tunnel.
The junior is now the only wrestler in Grain Valley history with two state championships.
“I feel like I was more prepared mentally,” Aumua said. “I had a lot of support and a lot of my family members came and I had new coaches come. It was a really good moment for me. I felt like I actually deserved this one.”
“(The Grain Valley wrestling team) is like my second family. I cannot thank them enough. They got me where I am today. My youth coaches helped me a lot, too, everyone helped me a lot.”
Aumua pinned her two opponents on Friday to advance to Saturday’s semifinal match. She defeated Holt’s Maria Slaughter 10-3 to advance to the title bout against Haynes. In the final match, she led 2-1 at the end of the first period after getting a takedown and Haynes getting an escape.
She chose the bottom position in the second period but was unable to escape from Haynes’ grasp, keeping the score the game going into the final period. Haynes needed an escape to tie the match, but Aumua kept her grounded. The junior turned Haynes to get a 3-point near fall before getting the pin on her second turn.
“She’s a good opponent and I am really glad I faced her,” Aumua said of Haynes. “I am really glad I got the competition. It made me a better wrestler and helped me learn what I need to focus on. She was strong and had good technique.”
For the first time in her career, Aumua had company at the state tournament. Freshman Jayden Moehle had an excellent debut in her first state tournament. In the 235-pound bracket she finished fourth to earn a medal.
The freshman lost in the first round to eventual state champion Catherine Dutton of Willard by pin but she bounced back and went 4-1 in the consolation bracket. She earned falls in all of her wins, including one in 2:06 against Lebanon’s Makenna Lewis in the bubble match, the one Moehle needed to win to qualify for a medal.
In her third place match, she was pinned by William Chrisman’s Kiara Boldridge.
“I am really proud of myself,” Moehle said. “I was super proud of myself in my third match because I hadn’t beat her. Then I finally got my revenge on her. I got her on my outside single and pinned her.”
Of the seven boys wrestlers that qualified for the state tournament, four ended up with medals.
Senior Tanner Barker closed out his high school career with the highest place he’s ever received at state as he finished third in the 165-pound bracket.
He won his first two matches, including a 4-3 victory against Davion King of Carthage in the quarterfinals, in which he got a clutch takedown in the third period.
Barker fell 3-0 in the semifinals to eventual state champion Aidan Hernandez of Francis Howell Central but rebounded for a 5-1 victory against Jackson Jones and met King again and won 3-1 in overtime. Barker avenged a loss earlier in the season to King.
“I have just been keeping my head down all season and grinding,” Barker said. “I came out with third place. Only two losses this season, so I will take it.”
His fellow senior, Dru Azcona (132), mirrored the placement he had last season at state, once again taking fourth place to close out his career. Azcona finished his career with three state medals, including a fifth-place finish his freshman season.
Azcona made it to the semifinals after a pair of wins, which included a pin in 2:43 in the semifinals of Eureka’s Andrew Stubblefield. However, he ran into eventual state champion Zan Fugitt in the semifinals and put up a strong fight and fell 7-3.
The senior then went 1-1 in the consolation bracket, which ended with a 5-3 loss to Oak Park senior Jamieson Tunstill.
“I am extremely excited about how my career went,” Azcona said. “I definitely learned a lot. It’s not about the medals, I am more happy with what I learned and the life lessons I learned.”
Grain Valley junior Gavin Parks earned his first state medal on Saturday as he took fourth at 12- pounds. During his freshman season, he fell in the bubble match at state and as a sophomore, he had to miss state because of a concussion.
This time, he was 4-2 at the state tournament. He won his first two matches to make it to the semifinals, which included a big 11-8 victory against Seckman’s Matthew Cook. Parks fell to Lee’s Summit North junior Charlie Dykes 4-1 to move to the consolation bracket.
Parks defeated Liberty North’s Michael Domino 4-0 in the consolation semifinals before falling to Staley’s Miller Sipes 3-2 in the third-place bout.
“Overall, I am proud of what I did and getting my first medal,” Parks said. “There are some things I could work on and I could’ve done better. Next year, I will do better. I think I did good overall, especially with the amount of hammers in this bracket.”
Freshman Zac Bleess made a stellar debut at the state tournament as he took sixth place in the 113-pound bracket. He went 3-3 and qualified for a medal after beating Staley’s Craig Omozeje 2-1 in overtime in the bubble match.
“It feels great, this has been the goal since the start of the season,” Bleess said of getting a state medal. “I had a couple of hard matches. I wish I could have gotten a little higher on the podium but not too bad for my freshman year.”
Brock Smith (120), Justin Dewees (157) and Tyler Groves (144) competed in the tournament but were eliminated.
Photo credit: Clara Jaques
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